The West Country is the perfect location for a driving break; with long roads passing through wonderful countryside and the sea breeze coming through the window where could be better? The Atlantic Highway, the A39 stretches from the pretty market town of Barnstaple in north Devon along the northern craggy coastline of the South West peninsula before weaving inland and down to the harbour town of Falmouth in south Cornwall.
The drive from start to finish will take just over two and a half hours to complete if you tackle it in one go. The road however, passes through some enchanting and mythical places which may just stop you from wanting to get to your destination in a hurry.
The A39 cuts its tarmac path through two counties and as such you can appreciate the diversity of the landscape as it changes from rolling green hills dotted with the obligatory cow or herd of sheep to plummeting rocky headlands and foaming seas. Ruined shaft engine houses are scattered like pins on a map standing as a quiet reminder of the proud mining heritage of this coast. Driving through the small towns and villages is a real pleasure as you pass through quaint market towns, sweet villages and traditional stone buildings, longhouses and converted barns.
The north Cornwall run of the Atlantic Highway is bound to make you want to stop and explore thanks in part to how bound to Arthurian Legend the area seems to be. The legendary Tintagel Castle, supposed birthplace of King Arthur sits in ruins proudly overlooking the Celtic Sea which merges its waters with the Atlantic Ocean. A short deviation from the Atlantic Highway along some windy Cornish roads will lead you into Tintagel where you can park up and take a brisk coast path walk out to see the powerful ruins.
If you follow the B3263 for just eight minutes you will be able to take in the beautiful National Trust owned harbour of Boscastle. Boscastle is an ancient fishing port with an unusual S shaped Elizabethan harbour which is very sheltered from the crashing Atlantic rollers. If you are lucky you will get to hear the Boscastle Busker, take in the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft or see the gorgeous waterfall of St Nectan’s Glen.
Once you are back on the Atlantic Highway you will pass through Wadebridge, a perfect place for lunch or, veer off to Padstow and take fish and chips by the sea in this trendy seaside town. The last leg of the journey to Falmouth passes through the Cornish countryside after a short stint on the A30. Once this far drivers should be aware that the Cornish are very keen on double roundabouts!
Once you pass through Truro with its cobbled square and pretty shopping area you will soon be in Falmouth with its narrow streets and fishing harbour. Further south on the same stretch of coast along roads that serpentine the cliff edge stands the fairy-tale castle island of St Michael’s Mount, to the far west you will find Land’s End, the hand carved Minack Theatre and the Isles of Scilly.
If the countryside and coastline of Devon and Cornwall sound appealing and the myth and legend surrounding King Arthur intrigue why not spend some time in the West Country in one of the wonderful holiday cottages where you can explore the area in greater detail and let the legend and folklore inspire.
And don’t forget that if you are looking to visit the West Country then Avis can provide you with a car rental for your journey and in some circumstances they can even deliver your car rental straight to your holiday cottage door with the Avis home delivery service!